Once Tempted (Silver Creek #1)
by Laura Moore
Blurb:Sweeping passions, family drama, and searing scandal play out at the magnificent Silver Creek Ranch as the heirs to a powerful dynasty seize their legacy of love.
Oldest son Ward Knowles feels the sprawling California ranch in his blood. And now that the family business has expanded to include a popular resort, he’s working harder than ever. Silver Creek is his legacy and his life, which is fine for the ruggedly sexy ladies’ man and committed bachelor. Love and trust don’t come easily for Ward since he lost his heart to a gold digger—until he meets a shy, unpretentious beauty whose sweet grace is about to turn his jaded heart into a hungry one.
Tess Casari has found sanctuary at Silver Creek, working as an assistant to Ward’s mother, Adele. Grateful for her busy new life running the ranch’s spa and resort, Tess can escape the heartbreak, humiliation, and secret shame of her failed marriage. The last thing she needs is temptation—especially from a man who reminds her so much of the husband who shattered her faith in love.
But passion and destiny are about to change the rules for two people who have stopped believing in the healing power of love.
Review:What a great new series to begin. I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting to be blown away with this story, but I tried to go in with an open mind. I have never read anything else written by Ms. Moore, but I can unequivocally say I will be keeping my eyes open for more. This was a great read and I am thrilled to say I will be adding a new author to my favorites list. Ward and Tess’s story was full of excitement, drama, and the everyday angst that is often overlooked by other authors. If you haven’t tried her writing yet I recommend you go out and grab this story ASAP to enjoy.
The story begins with the bit of background that leads our heroine, Tess, to change her life. Many would have treated it simply as a prologue, but I agree that the importance of the section made it important to include as the beginning of the story itself. Tess is deeply wounded by her failed marriage and the sudden death of her husband. Deciding it’s time to make a serious change in her life, she pulls up stakes and moves her life all the way across the country, leaving NY for the first time, to settle in the small town of Acacia, CA. Hoping her life will be changed for the better, Tess finds work at a family owned working guest ranch. She’s never worked or lived anywhere like this, but she (and her new boss) goes out on a limb and Tess takes the job as the owner’s new assistant.
But even on her first day of her new life, she runs into a dangerously gorgeous and sexy man, Ward Knowles, who just happens to be her new boss’s son and one of the owners of the ranch. She’s determined to keep herself away from Ward, knowing that his devastating charm will put her new life and her heart in jeopardy. But when they are thrown together working on a big event for the ranch, both Ward and Tess see the futility of resisting their attraction. Who would turn down “No-strings-attached” sex after all? Who could have ever guessed that these two jaded and broken hearts could so easily and deeply connect in so short a time?
Tess is a great character, once she decides to take back control of her life. She is spunky, sassy, and full of charm, leaving the reader wishing that had someone like her as a friend. As she takes on her new role at the ranch, her savvy and street smarts help her to find her place and succeed in attaining her dream job. But only when she spars with Ward do we get to see just how wonderful a character she really is. Ward is a world-weary and cynical but extremely sexy cowboy, but he is immediately attracted to the fiery and gorgeous Tess. He is a sweet good-old boy who definitely knows how to treat women, but Tess is definitely not the kind of girl he is used to. After their first night together, it immediately becomes obvious to him that his feelings for Tess run deeper than either of them would like. The problem is making Tess own up to her feelings before their pasts tear them apart.
Sadly the past is never something one can run from and you can’t pick when it catches up with you. Neither Ward nor Tess handle it very well when their insecurities jump up and leave them both reeling and pulling away from one another. I cried through several chapters and was rooting for them to finally get their shit together so they could see that the love they had was worth fighting for. Thankfully they both come to realize that their love is strong enough, true enough, to build their lives together and work past those uncertainties.
I loved this book on so many levels. Being a country girl myself, I LOVED the descriptions of the ranch and the animals that called it home. I’ve never been to northern CA, but this book made me feel like I was right on the land, enjoying the warm breezes, and petting the cute animals, before riding off into the sunset on one of their beautiful horses. It isn’t often that I run across such rich imagery that never gets tedious to read. Wade and Tess’s love story was one that pulled on my heartstrings and made me root for them every time something came between them. You could see the explosive passion between them from the start and knew that when they came together you would see fireworks for miles. The side characters were also great to read about and I’m hoping some of them will get their own stories soon too. All around this was a great beginning to the Silver Creek series and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series when it comes out. I recommend this to any lover of well-written, deeply sensual, and extremely witty romance stories.